According to a report released by the United Nations Children’s Fund, or UNICEF, Islamic State fighters have begun specifically targeting the children of families attempting to flee areas under ISIS control.

As SOFREP has reported on in the past, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has been utilizing a strategy of herding civilians into their territory to serve not only as human shields, but to guarantee coalition air strikes result in civilian casualties, thus increasing critical pressure on the United States and partnered nations on the world’s geopolitical stage.  In order to ensure the civilian population does not flee ISIS controlled portions of Mosul in Iraq and the defacto ISIS capital of Raqqa in Syria, extremist snipers have been shooting civilians and leaving their bodies in the streets – ensuring other civilians can see what will happen to them if they try to escape the fighting.

As many as 160 civilians were reportedly killed in just one day in Mosul earlier this month, as ISIS fighters killed men, women, and children while they attempted to escape to portions of the city under the control of Iraqi Security Forces.  Now, according to UN reports, ISIS fighters have taken to specifically targeting the children of these fleeing families, as a way to deter others from attempting to follow suit.

“They are using children as a weapon of war to prevent people from fleeing,” said UNICEF’s Iraq representative Peter Hawkins. “This just highlights how indiscriminate and catastrophic this war is.”